Can Renters Refresh With Paint?

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In 2021 changes came into place under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (NZ), affecting both tenants and landlords which included amending the law behind what ‘minor’ changes a tenant can make to the property they are renting, such as painting a room.

We take a look at what this means for renters and some fantastic paint ideas for your rental.

What exactly is a minor change?

Tenants can now ask for permission to make a change to the property* and landlords can’t decline if the change is minor, such as earthquake-proofing by securing a bookshelf to a wall.

A minor change is defined by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Tenancy Services as a “fixture, renovation, alteration or addition to the property that can be easily reversed to the same condition”, among other criteria.

But there lies a grey area in what defines a minor change. The safest option is to always run your wishes regarding decorating past your landlord first. Tenants are responsible for requesting making a minor change in writing to the landlord. They must receive their landlord’s permission (which needs to be within 21 days) before making the minor change.

In terms of the landlord’s responsibilities, they must respond in writing to the tenant’s request within 21 days of receiving it to say whether the change is seen as minor or not. If the change is minor, permission must be written in response within 21 days. If it is not seen as minor and more time is needed to consider the request, the landlord must give the tenant 21 days extension. Landlords must not turn down a request to make a minor change but may set reasonable conditions.

Tenants are required to cover the installation costs unless the landlord agrees to pay and must return the house to its original state when they move out (unless the landlord agrees the change can remain).

Ideas for minor paint changes

Although your rental may not be your own property, you still want to make the temporary space feel like your own, stamping your style on it.

It may be more likely that a landlord would agree to a new coat of paint in the home if it’s a light or neutral tone, which to them may seem more versatile in the long term. Try popular Resene whites or neutrals such as Resene Spanish WhiteResene Thorndon Cream or Resene Pearl Lusta.

The landlord may also be willing to accept minor paint changes such as a feature instead of a whole room. For instance, you can bring character to your kitchen by painting the cupboard doors in an on-trend colour. This part of the home can date quickly, so a fashionable colour will give it the lift it needs, without you having to paint the walls – a much more intensive job.

In the bedroom, either paint a headboard shape on the wall behind your bed or a curved shape behind your dressing table, defining the zones on the wall.

Paint ideas that you can take with you

Resene - paint a headboard

In the bedroom, apply an-on-trend hue to a freestanding headboard and rest it behind your bed, allowing it to tie in with the colours of your bedlinen or curtains.

There are ways of applying paint to your rental that don’t need to be reversed when you leave. Take furniture makeovers, for instance, the perfect way to bring cheery or pretty hues into a home to instantly elevate it.

Paint furniture

If you buy a tallboy, paint it in a favourite Resene colour so it can double as storage and a decorative feature. If you buy a vintage tallboy, swap the old handles out for more modern ones or simply paint them a new colour.

Kitchen stools can be painted in two colours – one on the top half of the legs and another on the bottom, with an accent colour on the seat for a dash of personality. Paint a handy pegboard in a colour you love and hang the kitchen utensils you use regularly on it.

Set the stage inside …

Set a stylish statement at your front entrance – just because you don’t own it doesn’t mean you can’t set the tone for the rest of the house. Do this by placing a rack of peg coat hooks painted in cheery pale yellow or grass green on your entrance wall. Or paint a freestanding coat stand if you have one. Combine either with a vintage bench seat painted in an inviting pale pink or terracotta for colour that those who enter the space can admire.

Swap out any standard, dated lighting for something more stylish, and add colour. Painting your light shades will bring small pops of colour into your space. As they take up such little room, dive deep and go bold, exploring that shade you’ve always been curious about or always felt strongly for.

Make sure the bulb inside resonates a warm glow, not a cool light. This will make for a cosier setting in the evening within which to unwind.

Painting a canvas using Resene testpots and hanging it will evoke immediate charm and character in your rental.

… and out

Paint plant pots for your living area or outside patio in the same tones of different Resene colours.

For more projects and colour inspiration visit

For more colour ideas and inspiration, view the latest looks online and visit your local Resene ColorShop.

Article provided by Resene

* Source: Tenancy Services, MBIE

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